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31 Oct 2010

Visio-Congress: Overview and Exposition at The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik

Bjarni H Thorarinsson, Visiros, 1994
Print, 30x40cm

Bjarni H Thorarinsson Visio-Congress: Overview and Exposition
The Living Art Museum - Reykjavik


23.10.10 - 05.12.10 Opening hours: Tue-Sun 12-5pm and by appointment

Birta Gudjonsdottir, director

The Living Art Museum
Skulagata 28
101 Reykjavik

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Bjarni H. Thorarinsson
Visio-Congress: Overview and Exposition

The Living Art Museum holds a retrospective exhibition of art by Bjarni H. Thorarinsson(1947) with particular emphasis on his efforts to link art and language in text-based works. The relationship between text and visual art has been a key subject in avant-garde art and few Icelandic artists have examined this subject as thoroughly as Bjarni.

Bjarni completed his studies at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts in 1977 and has been an active participant in the Icelandic art scene ever since. He was one of the founders of 'Gallery Sudurgata 7', an important venue for conceptual and avant-garde artists in the late 1970s, and a founding member of the Living Art Museum in 1978.

In the winter of 1987-88, Bjarni began an investigation that was to occupy him for the next two decades and is not over, even now. His original intention was to come to a better understanding of forms and their composition but he soon began to work out his problems with the aid of language.

Using language and written text, Bjarni could develop his formal system, pursuing the relationships between words, sound and concepts in a clear and sometimes comprehensive system. The raw material for this research is a series of lists and a taxonomic system that allowed him to develop keys to the declension of linguistic forms, resulting in new texts that sometimes resemble phonetic poetry but can sometimes also develop into meaningful texts with strong alliterative properties and complex rhymes.

In order to keep track of his research and systematise the results, Bjarni has defined a set of neologisms and analytic terms which together comprise a whole new system of thought, 'Visiology', and the beginnings of an academic discipline to pursue its study. The best-known products of this discipline are the 'Vísirósir', beautiful, symmetrical drawings where Bjarni's taxonomy of sounds, words and concepts is expressed in visual form.

Curator: Jon Proppé, philosopher and art critic.


Since it was founded by a group of artists in 1978, The Living Art Museum (Nylo) has served as an important internationally acclaimed platform of experimental and multidisciplinary projects for contemporary visual art in Iceland. This reputation is founded upon the museum´s commitment to the presentation of innovative work by Icelandic and international artists, always with a pronounced engagement in issues concerning society and cultural politics. The museum aim has been to explore various modes of production and display in order to create different forms of encounter between audiences and art(ists). The Living Art Museum has over these 30 years offered a varied program that has extended beyond art exhibitions, including performances, film and video screenings, live music, lectures and symposiums, poetry readings and theatre.

Nylo is the first and oldest non-profit artist-run organization in Iceland. Through the last 32 years it has stayed true to its original goals; to create a platform for progressive exhibitions and critical discussions on experimental art practice. The museum has given equal weight to work by international and Icelandic artists.

The collection holds works of well known international artists such as Robert Filiou, Geoffrey Hendricks, Alison Knowles, Carsten Höller, Matthew Barney, and well known Icelandic contemporary artists such as Erro, Hreinn Fridfinnsson, Ruri, Kristjan Gudmundsson, Sigurdur Gudmundsson, Birgir Andresson and Ragnar Kjartansson.

The Living Art Museum received the Icelandic Museum Prize of 2010, given biannually by The Museum Council of Iceland. The prize was given for Nylo´s outstanding practice with specific recognition of its registration process and its release of a book about the museum´s history; 'The Living Art Museum 1978-2008', published by the museum in February 2010.

The Living Art Museum
Skulagata 28
101 Reykjavik